Branch Newsletter October 2011

From the Editor            Raymond Fergusson

As you are all probably aware the Autumn meeting that was scheduled on Saturday 22nd October has been cancelled. This newsletter includes the various reports that would normally have been presented to the meeting.

At the Tower Captain’s meeting held on 18th September there was a discussion on how the Branch should communicate with its members. The current arrangements are that the ‘Look To’ is sent to primarily the Tower Captain for them to brief their tower. The Branch Newsletter is printed and distributed to each member through the Tower Captain unless there is more than one member at the same tower when the newsletter is shared by the family. The newsletter is distributed twice a year. The proposal from the meeting is that we should send all communications directly to each member via email but we would make a separate arrangement if an email address was not available. A copy of the ‘Look To’ and the Branch Newsletter can also be viewed on the Branch Website

It would be very helpful if you could share your views on this proposal to use email as the primary means of communication of branch information that you let me know directly by contacting me on 01844 270150 or to Amy Herlihy on 01865 400864 or through your Tower Captain. It is important that we hear the views of all our members.

Treasurer’s Report                by Maureen Bosley

The Branch has 143 members, including 7 new members elected during the course of the year. 5 are honorary members. The subscription remained at £6 for the year and the number of subscriptions in 2011 was 138 (plus the 5 honorary members).

73 members supported the 100 club in 2011 and £190 each was raised for ODGCB Bell fund and the Oxford Diocesan Bell Fund.

In accordance with the resolution passed at the 2010 AGM, tower fees for Branch outings and practices outside the Branch, were paid out of Branch funds.

On behalf of the branch, I extend my thanks to Sue Dyke for running the 100 Club and to Frank Norman for auditing the accounts. Their help and support is much appreciated.

Branch Practices for the remainder of 2011

3rd December Warborough             4pm - 5.30pm

Guild Programme for 2011

26th November 10 Bell Striking Competition               Shrivenham

26th November Autumn General Committee Meeting     Clanfield

From the Ringing Master                    by Hilarie Rogers

Our regular practices have continued, namely

•Monthly Doubles practice on the afternoon of the first Tuesday: Plain Bob Doubles has been introduced so that we have 2 months of Grandsire and 2 months of Plain Bob.

•Surprise practices now happen on the afternoon of the second Friday and alternate between Surprise Minor and Surprise Major, the latter with help from ringers from other branches.

•Our “last-Wednesday” Major practice, from 6.15pm-7.15pm, now includes both plain and surprise major. We may be able to fit one or two more people in, so please get in touch if you are interested. We would normally ask that you are fairly comfortable ringing minor, triples, and probably treble-bob hunting.

The periodic 8-bell practices have continued at Benson on their practice night, under the leadership of John Tchighianoff, and have been very well attended. We have held branch practices most months, with varying numbers attending. The planned handling sessions have not yet happened, but they are still in the pipeline, and I am happy to arrange other things on request!

Hilarie Rogers 01865 890163

St Andrew’s ChinnorAutumn Meeting

At the Tower Captains’ Meeting it was agreed not to hold a Branch Autumn Meeting this year. The Branch Practice on Saturday 22nd October at Chinnor will take place as normal from 4pm - 5.30pm. At 4pm there will be a brief General Meeting to elect new members, and Tower Captains have been asked to let Amy have names well in advance.


Tower Twinning

Would you like an invitation to join another tower on its practice night?

Would you like to invite another tower to join you?

See what can be done with just a few more ringers!

Join in the Tower Twinning this winter!

You will be paired with another tower in the branch and asked to arrange one shared practice night at each tower in each time slot. If you wish, you can arrange a quarter peal or other special ringing to include members of both towers.

There will be 3 time slots:

Mid October 2011 – end December 2011

January 2012 – mid March 2012

Mid March 2012 – end May 2012

If you haven’t already done so, please let Hilarie Rogers know if your tower wishes to participate, and we will do our best to fit you in!

Guild Ringing Day 2012

It is the turn of our branch to host the Guild Ringing Day on the Bank Holiday Monday, 7th May 2012. Every tower will be asked if they can be open to visitors for an hour that day - the precise timetable will be confirmed once all the towers are in place, and towers will then know what their time slot is. Nearer the time, we will be asking for help stewarding towers, so please keep the day free if you can!

Hilarie Rogers 01865 890163

25 years ago

On Saturday 25th October 1986 the Autumn Meeting was held at Berrick Salome.  This meeting had several visitors – some from as far away as Norwich and Wellington, New Zealand!  It was noted that Steadman and Double Norwich practices were held at Benson once a month.  The Odd Bob publication as discussed as publishing was to transiting to a professional printer. This meant that subs would increase 40p from a level of £1.75 to 2.15.  As always – the tea was highly praised!

Secretary’s report

On 26th February, 2011 we held our AGM at Little Milton. The meeting was held in their lovely village hall. At this meeting Brian Gray stepped down as Branch Chairman. We elected Andrew Davis as Chairman and Wendy Simon as Vice-Chairman. All other officers stayed in post. We continue to have enough members to warrant two representatives to the guild.  Lauren Todd of Chalgrove was presented her First Quarter Peal certificate. Our Spring Branch Outing was held on Saturday 14th May Visiting: St Peter and St Paul at Long Compton , St Lawrence Church at Mickleton,  Picnic lunch at Hidcote Manor Gardens, St. Thomas a Becket's Church at Todenham, and finally St Laurence Church in Combe. I am afraid I wasn’t able to attend – but there is a lovely description of the day by Jane Willis on the branch web-site

Here is a quote that I painted a lovely picture of the outing:

“After quite a long drive, we arrived at St Laurence Church in Combe – and discovered that the organisers' had kept the best until last! The bells were a dream to ring, with a beautiful clear tone. There were many beautiful aspects to the interior of the church, including interesting wall paintings and 14th century decorative floor tiles.” “An oak tree on the village green – a cricket match taking place on the playing field – a Norman Church – fabulous sounding bells – a perfect English scene.”

Congratulations are due to the South Oxon branch band that rang in the Guild 8‐bell Competition at Childrey on Monday 2nd May. The band finished 3rd out of the 9 teams who entered, behind Reading branch and High Wycombe ‐ thus earning themselves a calligraphy certificate! After practising for the few weeks beforehand, they rang the set touch of Grandsire Triples without mishap, setting a good rhythm on the way. The band was:  Kay Bartholomew, Sue Dyke, Wendy Simon, John Tchighianoff, John White, and Christopher, Daniel and Hilarie Rogers.

Although I know Kay will not be pleased with more attention – I think we should all give special congratulations to Kay Bartholomew for ringing her 100th peal this spring. Perhaps she has already added a few more to that number!

The Guild Festival, held on 9th July, saw a good number of South Oxon Ringers out and about in Oxford. This was a fantastic chance to ring at Christ Church Cathedral and other churches and colleges in central Oxford.  The Eucharist service, held in the Cathedral, featured an interlude of hand bell ringing which was just magic!

We have decided to not have an Autumn Meeting. This is a trend that appears to be common throughout the Guild.  It was felt that there was very little to be gained by the Autumn Meeting and it is not actually required. We will use the October Branch Practice for electing new members and presenting certificates.

A final, but very sad point is that Ann Mayou, Shabbington Tower Captain and Guild Children’s’ Officer, died suddenly at home Wednesday 7th September.  She rang at many towers in the branch and I am sure she will be sorely missed. Many quarter peals have been rung in memory of Ann.

3) Election of New Members – Reminder

If you want to nominate a new member and have missed the October Branch Practice, please give Amy the names of the ringers 6 weeks prior to the AGM.

4) Distinguished Membership Should you wish to nominate a branch member for Distinguished Membership please contact Amy. This award is given to a member of at least 30 years who is considered to have given meritorious service to the Guild or Branch. Details can be found here:


Aston Rowant    by Robert Newton

The most significant event for us since the last newsletter has been the installation of our rope guides. They look good but are unobtrusive, are quiet and, most importantly, very effective. Our thanks go to White’s for their careful, speedy and efficient work.

At the end of April we were delighted to mark the Royal Wedding with a quarter peal of 1260 April Day, Plain Bob and Grandsire Doubles. This was Guy’s first away from the tenor.

On 10th June another quarter (1260 Grandsire Doubles) was rung as a 90th birthday compliment to HRH Prince Philip. It was appropriate that Shirley conducted this one as it was also a birthday compliment to her son Terence, although I add in haste that he is 40 years younger than the Duke of Edinburgh! Following Shirley’s prolonged loss of voice; we were particularly pleased that she was able to call it. It was also the first quarter using the rope guides.

We have also acquired two recruits. One of them, Richard, recently moved into the village. I was tipped off about this by his father, David, who just happens to be the tower captain at Dorchester! Richard has quickly mastered bell control, listens intently and has progressed to Sunday service ringing very quickly. Adam has just started Y7, has good co-ordination, is as keen as mustard and will find ringing much easier when he grows a bit.

Do come and try out our rope guides one Tuesday evening.

Benson                   by John Tchighianoff

Our regular ringing on Sundays and Wednesdays continues to be well attended and it is only rarely that we do not have enough to ring all eight bells.

The occasional eight bell special practices on our normal practice night have been extremely well attended and it is has been good that this has enabled us to ring triples and major and also to offer the opportunity to ring on eight for those who normally only ring at six bell towers. We will continue to arrange these on an occasional basis.

Both Maureen and James attended the Michaelmas Stedman Triples Course and found this very worthwhile. I understand the tutor was impressed with their progress.

We now have a budding composer amongst us. James (age 13) has composed a Doubles and a Triples method which he would like to name ‘Benson’. We will now need to incorporate Benson Doubles in a quarter peal and I know he is working on a peal composition for Benson Triples.

Chalgrove      by Andrew Davis

We have now been ringing our rehung bells for 10 months; whilst still heavy they ring much better than before. Practices are getting very busy now that the holiday season is over, we are grateful to Gordon who rings with us regularly and Ray who joins us when he can. Their help makes all the difference as we can push our team forward.

All of our group are ringing plain hunt, Lucy and Lauren can manage Grandsire and are learning to ring inside. We are looking forward to twinning with other towers which will give us the opportunity to get all of the team progressing.

As is the way we have lost one of our young learners, however, another has returned and brought a friend along as well. We could now enter a Chalgrove "Young" Ladies team, along with the Chalgrove "Old Boys" at future events.

With so many of us, Sundays are well supported often having ten or more in the tower, this avoids the need to use our old cards, go Plain Hunt!

Chinnor       by Moira Hollick

We continue to practice every Friday and we are now able to ring most Sunday mornings.  We eventually received our new bell ropes and four of these are now in use with the other two to follow.

The Burdett family, who moved to Chinnor a year ago, have proved to be a real asset.  Although John has been ringing for services and weddings, Kate (mum) and Hattie (elder daughter) have now both started to ring for services and I'm sure it won't be long before Amelia is too. We still have our two teenagers Eleanor and Rachel who come fairly regularly to practice nights and they continue to make progress.

We are very grateful to Alan Keane who recently made us some new boxes to stand on, for those who need them.

We have rung for 14 weddings (4 of which were on Fridays), the school leavers' service and recently the mid-week Young Farmers Harvest Service. We are always very pleased to see Ray from Little Milton and Steve from Thame who help us out from time to time.
Dorchester         by David Parker

As always in ringing, we have had ups and downs in Dorchester.  Our young ringers are coming on well and two of them, Joshua Paul and Isabel Ford, have been elected members of the Diocesan Guild.  More will follow soon.  Congratulations to our learners who have all worked so hard to master handling the bells and then to ring in place with each other as a team.

Summer is a time for holidays and relaxation, and we have all been getting away at every opportunity!  Sometimes several of us have been away at once, causing us on a few occasions to be unable to ring for a Sunday service, something we try very hard to avoid.  My being on duty ‘downstairs’ as churchwarden has not helped either, so we can’t wait for our novices to get used to getting up (a little) earlier on Sunday mornings to come and ring!  Also, we look forward to the end of the dog training summer season with the hope that Aileen will be able to join us more often and give us her valuable skill and experience.

We continue to be grateful to our friends in Benson who come to our practices when they can. It has made all the difference to have one or two experienced ringers available to fill in when learners are doing Plain Hunt or Bob Doubles for the first time. It also gives our senior members an opportunity to have little rests!

Some of you may remember Doug Exon, former Dorchester tower captain who died in 1987.  His father was also tower captain before him, and he owned a set of handbells which were passed down in the family.  Doug’s son did not take up bell-ringing, and it was the family’s wish that the hand-bells should be given to the Abbey.  On Saturday 24th September the family (about 20 of them) came to the Abbey and presented the hand-bells to us in a beautiful ceremony conducted by the Rector, the Revd Canon Sue Booys.  We now have an opportunity to form a team of hand-bell ringers, and I hope this will be attractive to the young in particular.  We are enormously grateful to the Exxon family for their generous donation, given in memory of former tower captains Charles and his son Douglas Exxon.

Drayton St Leonard       by Hilarie Rogers

The dry weather meant that we reduced or ringing to 5 bells a bit earlier this year, and we have just started to ring all 6 again. Because of this we have had no extra ringing but have continued to ring on Sundays and practice nights. Unusually for us we had TWO weddings this year!

As I write we are preparing to ring in the Guild 6-bell final at Streatley…

Great Haseley     by Hilarie Rogers

Monday practices continue with our band of regular visitors, which has been swelled by the addition of James from Benson and Daniel from DSL during the holidays. We were saddened by the death of Ann Mayou and will miss her at our practices.

We rang a quarter for the Royal Wedding, and recently rang one in memory of Ann. The bells are being used for a quarter peal most months by a group of ringers working through some surprise minor methods. Several groups of visitors have been, and we have had a good number of weddings.

In the belfry, the refurbishment has continued and we now have a temporary platform to enable work to take place on the interior of the east wall where we are replacing some fallen stones, re-pointing the walls, and will eventually replace the mesh on the windows and install sound control.

Great Milton                by Pat Cox

How quickly the summer has gone!   We have been practising every week - and hopefully improving!   Our two young recruits are progressing well and enjoying their ringing - although studies and exams (not to mention rugby practise) have proved a diversion!

There have been regular visiting bands throughout the summer - and on October 1st we have our one Full Peal of the year.

So Great Milton has had lots of bells in 2011.

We look forward to the winter ringing, Christmas and beyond!

Little Milton                   by Jane Willis

Little Milton bell ringers have certainly had a busy time since the last newsletter!  Outings, competitions……. You name it, we have done it!

We welcomed three new members to the tower earlier in the year – John, Cathy and Edward DA’eth, and they have certainly had a huge impact on us.  Chris Rogers must be delighted to have some support in trying to coax us away from call changes and plain hunt, to regularly attempting Grandsire, and Bob Doubles!

Raymond, Hil and Jane had a great day out in London, when we joined with hundreds of other keen ringers to celebrate the centenary of the Ringing World magazine.  We had a fascinating tour around The Whitechapel Bell Foundry, followed by a terrifying experience ringing the very flighty bells at St Olavs – where Jennifer, one of our young members, now regularly attends.  We had to queue for about half an hour beforehand - and then following our shocking performance, had to do a walk of shame in front of the people still waiting to ring!   Needless to say, we were too embarrassed to attempt to ring anywhere else, but very much enjoyed the service in Westminster Abbey, and listening to the hand bells in Central Hall.

Having recovered from the ignominy of London, Raymond and Jane accompanied Amy Herlihy to the Oxford Guild Festival, where, after attending a pleasant service at Christchurch, we rang bells throughout the city.  All in all a very enjoyable day – and so much less scary, ringing with people we know! (and who know our capabilities……)

For the first time in quite a few years, we entered the Striking Competition held at Brightwell Baldwin, and managed to achieve third place.  I won’t tell you how many entrants there were ……

We have rung for two weddings in Little Milton  – firstly to celebrate the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the second time a couple from the village.  We have had a number of visiting ringers including the Bradfield Ringing Course.

The Little Milton ringers shared the sadness in the sudden passing of Ann Mayou. Ann was a delightful person who shared in our practice and she will be missed by us all.

Practices continue on a Tuesday evening, and we are very grateful to Chris Rogers for coming along to organize us.  We would be delighted to welcome visiting ringers to our practice – please join us for laughter, squash and jaffa cakes (and maybe a bit of ringing too!)

Shabbington                  by Caroline Lewis

The sudden and much unexpected death of Ann Mayou, our tower captain, was a huge shock to us all. She will be greatly missed. Ann was instrumental in the fund-raising and refurbishment of the bells, tower and facilities. She was immensely proud of the finished result.

So sad that Ann is no longer with us to enjoy the most comfortable ringing tower.

We have a good band of ringers and with the continued support from Chris Rogers and Daniel, when home from university, also Gordon Smith. We all very much want to continue what Ann had started. Some of us have just mastered plain hunt and all the younger ringers are progressing very well.

Chris very kindly arranged the Harvest Festival ringing on Sunday 25th September as I was away on holiday, very many thanks to Chris.

Thame                by Rosalie Gibson

We thought there was not much to report but looking through our attendance book shows it has been quite a busy year so far. We are two thirds of the way through our 36 weddings and have twice rung half muffled for funerals. The first for David Payne, a very loyal Thame ringer for many years, who died at the end of February. The second in April for Leonard Webb, a member of the church congregation and an Honorary Citizen of the Town. This week we were also requested to toll a bell for the funeral of another loyal member of the congregation.

In February Fullers Brewery asked us to ring the bells for the re launch of the Six Bells pub, located just at the end of Church Road. That must be a first, for this branch anyway! The next day three of our members went on a Tower Maintenance course and since then have checked the bells, ropes etc every three months for any adjustments. At this years Tower Inspection we were disappointed to have our Gold award replaced by Silver. However this was not entirely within our hands as points were lost due to such things as emergency lighting not being 100%. The Church had already checked the electrics and was upgrading where required but this phase was still to be implemented. However, we will be back again next year gunning for Gold once more.

Along with almost every tower in the land we rang to celebrate the Royal wedding on April 29th of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Last year Stephen attended a course for teaching bell handling. It took a while to find a willing student until Julie, who had learnt to ring some years ago, decided to come back and start again. After a few practice attempts she became quite competent again and joined us for service ringing. At the same time Olivia arrived in the tower and wanted to learn. She showed great promise and a few weeks later brought Michael along who also grasped things rapidly. Both are now ringing call changes with a little help and we hope to nominate all three as new members in January. Practice nights are now on the whole well attended and we have started to be able to ring Grandsire Doubles with an entirely Thame band.

We received many requests from visiting bands but had to turn some away as we had scaffolding around the tower for stonework repairs. Whilst tying a bell for training however we discovered the scaffolding had been used to steal lead from our roof, as with so many other churches. Thankfully repairs could be implemented before lots of rain came in to warn us of the theft.

In July the Branch practice was held at Thame and was well attended. Also that month Rosalie was made a member of the St Birinus Fellowship by the Bishop of Dorchester for her many years of dedication and commitment to the work of the Church. She has been treasurer to the P C C for well over thirty years and our Tower Captain since Terry died. She is also Treasurer and Trustee of several Community organizations and coincidentally, in the same week was given a Lifetime Achievement Civic Award by the Town with the citations both reading very similarly.

Warborough             by Sue Dyke

The year started off reasonably well with practices being held on a regular basis but our numbers appear to have dwindled over the last few months. Following our August break for holidays etc. we have not managed to gather enough ringers together to make the practice worthwhile.  However, I am pleased to say that we have continued to ring for the Sunday services.

We have been asked to ring for a record number of weddings this year which is always a pleasure and much appreciated by the guests.

A couple of bands have visited us on their outings, from Leatherhead and Buckingham and, as usual, the Bradfield Course visited us in August for one of the sessions.